Ordway's Free Virtual Series Is An Invitation To 'Meet The Artists'

The series continues next week.

By: Feb. 02, 2021

Ordway's Free Virtual Series Is An Invitation To 'Meet The Artists'

The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts has announced several new guest artists who will appear in the Ordway's 'Meet the Artists,' a series of free livestreamed conversations with performers, directors, designers and more. This online series invites audiences to meet the incredible national and local artists who create shows in the Ordway's flagship series, Broadway at the Ordway.

Meet the Artists events will be hosted by the Ordway's Producing Artistic Director Rod Kaats. Other Twin Cities artists will join as co-hosts for some of the events. Theater Mu Artistic Director Lily Tung Crystal will co-host the first event this month.

The series comes at a time when performing arts has been hugely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment rates for actors and dancers are well over 50% now compared to a national unemployment rate of approximately 8.5%.

"Artists are among the most underemployed workers in the country. I've been losing a lot of sleep since the pandemic began, and I'm one of many. We're all really worried about how artists will weather this time," said Kaats. "All of us at the Ordway are yearning for the day we can safely reopen our doors and invite audiences, and artists, to be back where they belong: together. Until then, I hope this series, by creating a virtual town square, will remind us why gathering together in person is so important."

Each event in the series will include a livestreamed, hour-long, free-flowing conversation with artists, followed by a 20-minute audience Q&A session. These events are free; no admission is charged, but reservations are required.

"Making theater virtually is tricky, because something important is missing. When we're not all in the room together, one of the foundations of the experience, the 'live-ness,' is absent. But virtual conversations with artists, in their homes, with the occasional cat walking in front of the screen, or child who needs their attention, has an intimacy that's palpable. I'm hoping that brings audiences and artists closer," Kaats said. "And these conversations will be fun. The artists we'll be talking to are witty and wise, insightful, entertaining and often hilarious. These are artists you definitely want to meet."

The Ordway plans to continue the virtual Meet the Artists series even after it resumes live programming on its stages. Below is the list of confirmed events in the series as currently scheduled. Each of the livestreamed events begins at 6 p.m.

Bailey McCall and David Socolar
Feb. 11, 2021
The musical "Waitress," with songs from Sarah Bareilles, will be part of Broadway at the Ordway next season. To celebrate, the Ordway is hosting this special, virtual pre-Valentine's Day Meet the Artists event. Tune in online for an exclusive music video sneak peek from the show, and a livestreamed conversation with "Waitress" costars Bailey McCall and David Socolar, who will announce the winners of the Ordway's Valentine's Day Pie contest. Prizes include tickets to "Waitress" at the Ordway and a delicious pie from Hot Hands Pie and Biscuit in St. Paul. Special appearance by Ruthanne Heyward, the beloved local performer, as co-host.

Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal
A special, rebroadcast encore presentation - available On Demand from Feb. 13-21, 2021
Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal, from the original cast of iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning musical "Rent," appeared in one of the Ordway's first and most popular livestreamed Meet the Artists events last fall. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of "Rent" on Feb. 13, a special rebroadcast encore presentation of this conversation will be available On Demand starting on Feb. 13 through Feb. 21, 2021. This is a rare and exciting opportunity to hear these artists talk about the early days of the beloved landmark musical and how it changed their lives forever. Special appearance by Martha Banta, Associate Director of the original production of "Rent."

Samantha Pauly
Feb. 23, 2021
Samantha Pauly "possesses a beguiling blend of butter-wouldn't-melt charm and sensual guile, a pristine voice with a steel edge, and more than a touch of star quality." That's how the Evening Standard in London described Samantha's performance as Eva Perón in "Evita." A few short weeks after "Evita" closed in London, she walked on stage at the Ordway as Katherine Howard in the pre-Broadway production of "SIX: The Musical". Tune in online for a conversation with this incredibly versatile performer and learn about her other starring roles in musicals all over Chicago, her volunteer work with greyhound rescue organizations and how she manages anxiety during stressful times.

Brittney Mack
March 9, 2021
Brittney Mack plays Anna of Cleves, one of the lucky queens in the Broadway production of "SIX: The Musical." Cleves keeps her head, scores a lavish settlement and lives a life of opulence. Tune in online for a conversation with the Chicago native about the importance of faith, and learn how she makes a role her own, why she knows a lot about being one of six, and how she summons the insatiable exuberance she needs to sing "I'm the queen of the castle, get down you dirty rascal" and bring down the 'Haus' night after night.

Tamara Tunie
March 23, 2021
Critics raved about Tamara Tunie's 'masterful' and 'superb' performance in the Ordway's highly acclaimed 2019 reimagined production of "42nd Street." Tune in online for a conversation with this award-winning, multi-talented artist and learn about her work as a philanthropist and activist, working with Harlem Stage, God's Love We Deliver and Black Theatre United. She'll talk about her Broadway shows with Lena Horne and Denzel Washington, her film work (including two projects with Al Pacino), and her extraordinary 21 seasons as medical examiner Melinda Warner in the legendary NBC television series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."

While each conversation in the Meet the Artists series is free, reservations are required. Go to Ordway.org to make a reservation for any of the events scheduled through the end of March 2021.